HomeHwang available for Wolves following Asian Cup heartache

Hwang available for Wolves following Asian Cup heartache

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Wolves will have their leading goalscorer Hwang Hee-chan available for Saturday’s clash with Brentford following South Korea’s exit from the Asian Cup, boss Gary O’Neil has confirmed.

Hwang has been in outstanding form for Wolves this term, scoring 11 goals across all competitions including 10 in the Premier League – two more than he managed in his previous two seasons combined.

He has missed their last six games after being named as part of his nation’s squad for the Asian Cup in Qatar, where he was unable to inspire Jurgen Klinsmann’s side to glory.

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Hwang scored a 96th-minute equaliser as South Korea fought back to beat Australia 2-1 in the quarter-finals, but they fell at the next hurdle, losing 2-0 to surprise package Jordan in the last four.

The forward will now feature in O’Neil’s plans for Wolves’ meeting with Brentford, as will midfielder Boubacar Traore, who helped Mali reach the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

“Both are fit and available to start,” O’Neil said of the pair. “There will be some decisions to make. I’m disappointed for Channy as I know he was extremely keen to win the Asian Cup for his country.

“We’re disappointed for him that he couldn’t quite go all the way, but getting him back one game earlier than we expected gives us a fantastic option.

“Having Channy back around the group gave everyone a lift this morning.”

Wolves have only lost one of their last nine games across all competitions, with some tipping them for a tilt at European qualification following last week’s thrilling 4-2 win at Chelsea.

O’Neil’s men may have been in an even better position if not for a series of controversial decisions which have gone against them, with Wolves having conceded contentious penalties against Luton Town, Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Fulham before Christmas.

This week, a Premier League report admitted to 20 VAR errors being made this season, and while O’Neil remains in favour of using the technology, he believes changes must be made to benefit match-going supporters.

“The in-stadium experience is an interesting one because we are used to just dealing with the officials,” O’Neil said.

“But at West Brom in the [FA] Cup game it was nice knowing that when you scored a goal, it was definitely a goal. You could celebrate and you wouldn’t get three or four minutes of checks.

“It is one that needs looking at. As I’ve always been with VAR, I like it, but it needs to be better. It needs to be worth the bad side of it, which is that it can affect the in-stadium experience.

“If we’re going to affect that, it needs to really be good at what it does. I think the balance is slightly off and we’ve taken more away than we’ve given. I’m sure they’re working hard to address it.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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